Though relatively unsung in the English-speaking world, Jean Rouch (1917–2004) was a towering figure of ethnographic cinema. Over the course of a fifty-year career, he completed over one hundred films, both documentary and fiction, and exerted an influence far beyond academia. Exhaustively researched yet elegantly written, The Adventure of the Real is the first comprehensive analysis of his practical filmmaking methods.
Rouch developed these methods while conducting anthropological research in West Africa in the 1940s–1950s. His innovative use of unscripted improvisation by his subjects had a profound impact on the French New Wave, Paul Henley reveals, while his documentary work launched the genre of cinema-vérité. In addition to tracking Rouch’s pioneering career, Henley examines the technical strategies, aesthetic considerations, and ethical positions that contribute to Rouch’s cinematographic legacy. Featuring over one hundred and fifty images, The Adventure of the Real is an essential introduction to Rouch’s work.
Born in 1900 in French West Africa, Malian writer Amadou Hampâté Bâ was one of the towering figures in the literature of twentieth-century Francophone Africa. In Amkoullel, the Fula Boy, Bâ tells in striking detail the story of his youth, which was set against the aftermath of war between the Fula and Toucouleur peoples and the installation of French colonialism. A master storyteller, Bâ recounts pivotal moments of his life, and the lives of his powerful and large family, from his first encounter with the white commandant through the torturous imprisonment of his stepfather and to his forced attendance at French school. He also charts a larger story of life prior to and at the height of French colonialism: interethnic conflicts, the clash between colonial schools and Islamic education, and the central role indigenous African intermediaries and interpreters played in the functioning of the colonial administration. Engrossing and novelistic, Amkoullel, the Fula Boy is an unparalleled rendering of an individual and society under transition as they face the upheavals of colonialism.
Internationally renowned as an exciting guide to unknown peoples and places, Norwegian Carl Lumholtz was a Victorian-era explorer, anthropologist, natural scientist, writer, and photographer who worked in Australia, Mexico, and Borneo. His photographs of the Tarahumara, Huichol, Cora, Tepehuan, Southern Pima, and Tohono O’odham tribes of Mexico and southwest Arizona were among the very first taken of these cultures and still provide the best photographic record of them at the turn of the twentieth century. Lumholtz published his photographs in several books, including Unknown Mexico and New Trails in Mexico, but, because photographic publishing was then in its infancy, most of the images were poorly printed, badly cropped, or reworked by “illustrators” using crude techniques. Among Unknown Tribes presents more than two hundred of Lumholtz’s best photographs—many never before published—from the archives of the American Museum of Natural History in New York and the Museum of Cultural History in Oslo, Norway. The images are newly scanned, most from the original negatives, and printed uncropped, disclosing a wealth of previously hidden detail. Each photograph is fully identified and often amplified by Lumholtz’s own notes and captions. Accompanying the images are essays and photo notes that survey Lumholtz’s career and legacy, as well as what his photographs reveal about the “unknown tribes.” By giving Lumholtz’s photographs the high-quality reproduction they deserve, Among Unknown Tribes honors not only the Norwegian explorer but also the native peoples who continue to struggle for recognition and justice as they actively engage in the traditional customs that Lumholtz recorded.
In 1904 a young Danish woman met a Sami wolf hunter on a train in Sweden. This chance encounter transformed the lives of artist Emilie Demant and the hunter, Johan Turi. In 1907–8 Demant went to live with Sami families in their tents and on migrations, later writing a lively account of her experiences. She collaborated with Turi on his book about his people. On her own and later with her husband Gudmund Hatt, she roamed on foot through Sami regions as an ethnographer and folklorist. As an artist, she created many striking paintings with Sami motifs. Her exceptional life and relationships come alive in this first English-language biography.
In recounting Demant Hatt's fascinating life, Barbara Sjoholm investigates the boundaries and influences between ethnographers and sources, the nature of authorship and visual representation, and the state of anthropology, racial biology, and politics in Scandinavia during the first half of the twentieth century.
The most prolific ethnographic filmmaker in the world, a pioneer of cinéma vérité and one of the earliest ethnographers of African societies, Jean Rouch (1917-) remains a controversial and often misunderstood figure in histories of anthropology and film. By examining Rouch's neglected ethnographic writings, Paul Stoller seeks to clarify the filmmaker's true place in anthropology.
A brief account of Rouch's background, revealing the ethnographic foundations and intellectual assumptions underlying his fieldwork among the Songhay of Niger in the 1940s and 1950s, sets the stage for his emergence as a cinematic griot, a peripatetic bard who "recites" the story of a people through provocative imagery. Against this backdrop, Stoller considers Rouch's writings on Songhay history, myth, magic and possession, migration, and social change. By analyzing in depth some of Rouch's most important films and assessing Rouch's ethnography in terms of his own expertise in Songhay culture, Stoller demonstrates the inner connection between these two modes of representation.
Stoller, who has done more fieldwork among the Songhay than anyone other than Rouch himself, here gives the first full account of Rouch the griot, whose own story scintillates with important implications for anthropology, ethnography, African studies, and film.
Family and Work in Everyday Ethnography exposes the intimate relationship between ethnographers as both family members and researchers. The contributors to this exciting volume question and problematize the “artificial divide” between work and family that continues to permeate writing on ethnographic field work as social scientists try to juggle research and family tensions while “on the job.”
Essays relate experiences that mirror work-family dilemmas that all employed parents face, and show how deeply personal experiences affect social scientists’ home life and their studies. Bringing together voices of various family members—pregnant women, mothers, fathers, and children—Family and Work in Everyday Ethnography demonstrates how the mixture of work and family in this particular occupation has raised questions—both practical and theoretical—that relate to race, class, and gender.
Contributors include: Chris Bobel, Erynn Masi de Casanova, Randol Contreras, C. Aiden Downey, Tanya Golash-Boza, Steven Gold, Sherri Grasmuck, Barbara Katz Rothman,
Jennifer Reich, Leah Schmalzbauer, Gregory Smithsimon, and the editors.
“Stunning. . . . Read this book: in equal measure it will give you hope and trouble your dreams.”—Laura Dassow Walls, author of Henry David Thoreau: A Life and Passage to Cosmos: Alexander von Humboldt’s Shaping of America
Georg Forster (1754–94) was in many ways self-taught and rarely had two cents to rub together, but he became one of the most dynamic figures of the Enlightenment: a brilliant writer, naturalist, explorer, illustrator, translator—and a revolutionary. Granted the extraordinary opportunity to sail around the world as part of Captain James Cook’s fabled crew, Forster touched icebergs, walked the beaches of Tahiti, visited far-flung foreign nations, lived with purported cannibals, and crossed oceans and the equator. Forster recounted the journey in his 1777 book A Voyage Round the World, a work of travel and science that not only established Forster as one of the most accomplished stylists of the time—and led some to credit him as the inventor of the literary travel narrative—but also influenced other German trailblazers of scientific and literary writing, most notably Alexander von Humboldt. A superb essayist, Forster made lasting contributions to our scientific—and especially botanical and ornithological—knowledge of the South Seas.
Having witnessed more egalitarian societies in the southern hemisphere, Forster returned after more than three years at sea to a monarchist Europe entering the era of revolution. When, following the French Revolution of 1789, French forces occupied the German city of Mainz, Forster became a leading political actor in the founding of the Republic of Mainz—the first democratic state on German soil.
In an age of Kantian reason, Forster privileged experience. He claimed a deep connection between nature and reason, nature and politics, nature and revolution. His politics was radical in its understanding of revolution as a natural phenomenon, and in this often overlooked way his many facets—as voyager, naturalist, and revolutionary—were intertwined.
Yet, in the constellation of the Enlightenment’s trailblazing naturalists, scientists, political thinkers, and writers, Forster’s star remains relatively dim today: the Republic of Mainz was crushed, and Forster died in exile in Paris. This book is the source of illumination that Forster’s journey so greatly deserves. Tracing the arc of this unheralded polymath’s short life, Georg Forster explores both his contributions to literature and science and the enduring relationship between nature and politics that threaded through his extraordinary four decades.
When Western scholars write about non-Western societies, do they inevitably perpetuate the myths of European imperialism? Can they ever articulate the meanings and logics of non-Western peoples? Who has the right to speak for whom? Questions such as these are among the most hotly debated in contemporary intellectual life. In How "Natives" Think, Marshall Sahlins addresses these issues head on, while building a powerful case for the ability of anthropologists working in the Western tradition to understand other cultures.
In recent years, these questions have arisen in debates over the death and deification of Captain James Cook on Hawai'i Island in 1779. Did the Hawaiians truly receive Cook as a manifestation of their own god Lono? Or were they too pragmatic, too worldly-wise to accept the foreigner as a god? Moreover, can a "non-native" scholar give voice to a "native" point of view? In his 1992 book The Apotheosis of Captain Cook, Gananath Obeyesekere used this very issue to attack Sahlins's decades of scholarship on Hawaii. Accusing Sahlins of elementary mistakes of fact and logic, even of intentional distortion, Obeyesekere portrayed Sahlins as accepting a naive, enthnocentric idea of superiority of the white man over "natives"—Hawaiian and otherwise. Claiming that his own Sri Lankan heritage gave him privileged access to the Polynesian native perspective, Obeyesekere contended that Hawaiians were actually pragmatists too rational and sensible to mistake Cook for a god.
Curiously then, as Sahlins shows, Obeyesekere turns eighteenth-century Hawaiians into twentieth-century modern Europeans, living up to the highest Western standards of "practical rationality." By contrast, Western scholars are turned into classic custom-bound "natives", endlessly repeating their ancestral traditions of the White man's superiority by insisting Cook was taken for a god. But this inverted ethnocentrism can only be supported, as Sahlins demonstrates, through wholesale fabrications of Hawaiian ethnography and history—not to mention Obeyesekere's sustained misrepresentations of Sahlins's own work. And in the end, although he claims to be speaking on behalf of the "natives," Obeyesekere, by substituting a home-made "rationality" for Hawaiian culture, systematically eliminates the voices of Hawaiian people from their own history.
How "Natives" Think goes far beyond specialized debates about the alleged superiority of Western traditions. The culmination of Sahlins's ethnohistorical research on Hawaii, it is a reaffirmation for understanding difference.
Scholars have long recognized that ethnographic method is bound up with the construction of theory in ways that are difficult to teach. The reason, Allaine Cerwonka and Liisa H. Malkki argue, is that ethnographic theorization is essentially improvisatory in nature, conducted in real time and in necessarily unpredictable social situations. In a unique account of, and critical reflection on, the process of theoretical improvisation in ethnographic research, they demonstrate how both objects of analysis, and our ways of knowing and explaining them, are created and discovered in the give and take of real life, in all its unpredictability and immediacy.
Improvising Theory centers on the year-long correspondence between Cerwonka, then a graduate student in political science conducting research in Australia, and her anthropologist mentor, Malkki. Through regular e-mail exchanges, Malkki attempted to teach Cerwonka, then new to the discipline, the basic tools and subtle intuition needed for anthropological fieldwork. The result is a strikingly original dissection of the processual ethics and politics of method in ethnography.
For the late Fuad I. Khuri, a distinguished career as an anthropologist began not because of typical concerns like accessibility, money, or status, but because the very idea of an occupation that baffled his countrymen made them—and him—laugh. “When I tell them that ‘anthropology’ is my profession . . . they think I am either speaking a strange language or referring to a new medicine.” This profound appreciation for humor, especially in the contradictions inherent in the study of cultures, is a distinctive theme of An Invitation to Laughter, Khuri’s astute memoir of life as an anthropologist in the Middle East.
A Christian Lebanese, Khuri offers up in this unusual autobiography both an insider’s and an outsider’s perspective on life in Lebanon, elsewhere in the Middle East, and in West Africa. Khuri entertains and informs with clever insights into such issues as the mentality of Arabs toward women, eating habits of the Arab world, the impact of Islam on West Africa, and the extravagant lifestyles of wealthy Arabs, and even offers a vision for a type of democracy that could succeed in the Middle East. In his life and work, as these astonishing essays make evident, Khuri demonstrated how the discipline of anthropology continues to make a difference in bridging dangerous divides.
In this fascinating and vivid account, Peter M. Gardner takes us along with him on his anthropological field research trips. Usually, the author’s family is there, too, either with him in the field or somewhere nearby. Family adventures are part of it all. Travel into the unknown can be terrifying yet stimulating, and Gardner describes his own adventures, sharing medical and travel emergencies, magical fights, natural dangers, playful friends, and satisfying scientific discoveries. Along the way, we also learn how Gardner adapted to the isolation he sometimes faced and how he coped with the numerous crises that arose during his travels, including his tiny son’s bout with cholera.
Because Gardner’s primary research since 1962 has been with hunter-gatherers, much of his story transpires either in the equatorial jungle of south India or more than one hundred miles beyond the end of the road in Canada’s Northwest Territories. Other ventures transport readers to Japan and back to India, allowing them to savor ancient sights and sounds. Gardner closes the book with a journey of quite another sort, as he takes us into the world of nature, Taoist philosophy, and the experimental treatment of advanced cancer.
Throughout this fast-moving book, Gardner deftly describes the goals and techniques of his research, as well as his growing understanding of the cultures to which he was exposed. Few personal accounts of fieldwork describe enough of the research to give a complete sense of the experience in the way this book does. Anyone with an interest in travel and adventure, including the student of anthropology as well as the general reader, will be totally intrigued by Gardner’s story, one of a daily existence so very different from our own.
In the late sixties, Gail Pool and her husband set off for an adventure in New Guinea. He was a graduate student in anthropology; she was an aspiring writer. They prepared, as academics do, by reading, practicing with language tapes, consulting with the nearest thing to experts, and then, excited and optimistic, off they went. But all their research could not prepare them for the reality of life in the jungle. As they warded off gargantuan insects, slogged through seemingly endless mud, and turned on each other in fatigue and frustration, they struggled to somehow connect with their enigmatic hosts, the Baining—a people who showed no desire to be studied.
Sixteen months later they returned home. Despite months of trying, they had not been able to make sense of the Baining’s culture. Worse yet, their lives no longer seemed to make sense. Pool put her journals away. Her husband abandoned the study of anthropology.
Decades later, Pool returned to her journals and found in her jumbled notes the understanding that had eluded her twenty-three–year-old self. Finally, she and her husband returned to New Guinea for a shorter visit and a warm reunion with the tribe that challenged them on so many levels and, Pool now realized, made their journey and lives deeper and richer.
Unique in ethnography, Nurturing Doubt documents the transforming effects of field experiences on a young Mennonite who went to Argentina to work with the Toba, first as a missionary and later as an anthropologist. Elmer Miller insightfully probes the documents--diaries, field journals, and letters--of both his lives, revealing as he does the ways in which his perceptions of the Toba--and theirs of him--changed when his role changed. Deeply affected by an upbringing in which he had been taught that doubting was "sinful," Miller gradually found that he doubted not only the validity of the missionary mandate but also his ethnographic mandate and the whole practice of anthropology. His exploration of how his doubt was transformed from a negative activity into a positive philosophical attitude underscores the richness of his relationships with the Toba. In depicting the move from theological to anthropological discourse, Miller contributes to current debates over the form and purpose of ethnographic investigation and reporting.
"To read the book is to appreciate the highly contingent, provisional, oblique, open-ended way in which people try to make "sense" of another culture."—Resil B. Mojares, Philippine Graphic
"This book is an interestingly complex ethnography that approaches the self-critical dialectical ethnography called for two decades ago....It is a welcome contribution to postmodernist theory and to the ethnography of the Visayas."—Ronald Provencher, Journal of Asian Studies